Skip to main content
Advice for DesignersAdvice for HomeownersDecorating Advice

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables like a Designer

By 11/09/2014January 28th, 201723 Comments

Ever noticed that designers usually don’t buy matching sets of three coffee tables?

One of the comments I heard a lot when we toured showrooms at High Point at Market (by the salesperson giving us the tour) last Fall was “This is all too much together of course, but individually, just fabulous”.

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

 {Pottery Barn Coffee table Cube and End Table}

The worst is when the big box ‘Get a free TV with your sofa’ stores sell all three together and you can’t even split them up? That is doing no one any favours. The consumer who doesn’t know anything about design, thinks that’s just what you should do?

If you have had a living or family room without coffee or end tables just a little too long, here’s some coordinated sets for some inspiration.

A room simply doesn’t look finished without the right coffee and end tables.

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{image source} {Seagrass Coffee Table} {Metal Drum Table} {Metal Side Table}

This first inspiration picture features two coffee tables! Sometimes if you have a large room, that’s what it takes!

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{Tufted Ottoman} {Mixed Wood Side Table} {Martini Side Table}

If your living room is where you watch television as well, an ottoman (above and below) is always a great idea instead of a hard coffee table. You can always perch a tray for drinks on the ottoman.

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{Avenida Ottoman} {Book it Coffee Table} {Pottery Barn Metropolitan Cube} {Pier 1 Mother of Pearl} {Martini Side Table West elm}


How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{Coffee Table} {Rustic Console} { Sculpted Drum Side Tables} {Angled Base Side Table} All from West Elm

When coordinating tables, one good rule of thumb is to repeat the same wood colour twice. Or it doesn’t necessarily have to be repeated in end tables. The coffee table in this room I designed is not repeated in the tables but the same colour is in the sisal area rug and the mirror above the console table.

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

Make sure you keep the shapes different enough so they go together. For example, for this living room (above) I would not have also included the angled table from the photo right before this one.

{Pen Shell Coffee Table} {Jules Table Crate & Barrel} {Terrace Side Table}


How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{Sarah Richardson Design} {Rustic Side Table} {Stockhart Coffee Table} { Berkley Side Table}

The rustic side table here adds textural interest but isn’t paired with any other tables that would clash as well. Notice the colour of the Rustic side table has been repeated in the table lamps.

How to Coordinate Coffee & Accent Tables Like a Designer | Maria Killam

{image source} {Weber Coffee Table} {Sherwood Side Table} {Bianca Mirror} {Stump Side Table}

A stump will go anywhere, so snap one up for an side table that you can sit on as well. I love the dramatic mirrors in between the french doors in this photo instead of drapery!

Hope this has inspired you to get your room finished! Then, don’t forget lamps! No one ever has enough. I’ve never been in an interior that had too many lamps so that’s saying something!

Have a great week my lovelies! xoxo Maria

Related posts:

The Enchanting World of Atmosphere

The Rule of More

What Every Lighting Obsessed Guy or Gal should Know

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert


37 pins


  • Love this post! Great info Maria! Happy Sunday!

  • Ayodele says:

    Wow, I love this article. It’s an eye opener

  • BethB says:

    I like the mirror drama in the last photo too. Caveat: if the view through the French doors was beautiful, I wouldn’t use the mirrors, since they’d they’d keep the focus inside instead of out.

  • Susijo says:

    I think you’re talking to me, Maria! Even though we moved into our ‘new’ house a year ago, our family room is very unfinished — a hodgepodge of 5 chairs (which look like they are secondhand from 5 previous owners, and they mostly are), 2 small ottomans (which do match their chairs), 1 large beanbag and a TV resting atop 2 side-by-side matching little dressers. Honestly, a Bohemian themed room would look more put-together!

    Despite the spacious interior and high ceilings, the room itself is just 16 x 12 and i don’t want it to feel crowded with furniture. The goal is 1 corner recliner, 1 sofa and 1 big easy chair. I want a coffee table or ottoman for the sofa… you suggest an ottoman with a tray for drinks. I’m wondering if a hard wood table would equally work if, when someone wishes to put up his feet, we can pad it with a folded blanket?

    Is there a rule of thumb for size of the table or ottoman based on the room?

    • Maria Killam says:

      HI Susijo, sure a hard wood table would work as well, as long as you get a good sturdy one that will work as an ottoman too in a pinch.

      There should be a minimum of two feet between the coffee table and sofas/chairs. Get some boxes and tape them together to get an idea of what will work before you commit!
      Great question!

  • Kay says:

    Another great practical post–thanks, Maria!

    When placing tables on both ends of a sofa, with lamps, is it better to match tables and lamps or use different tables and/or lamps, making sure to coordinate heights? My sense is that matching them creates a more formal atmosphere and not matching is casual. The placement of the sofa in our large dining room–under the big window and directly in front of the curtain panels–seems to demand matched–or very similar–tables and lamps, but in pictures where the sofa is floating, sometimes I see different tables, or one, or even none.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Coordinating lamp heights usually works the best but they don’t have to be the same, neither do the end tables unless a symmetrical look is what the room demands. It’s hard to give rules of thumb for this kind of thing because there are so many ways to manipulate a space with the right furniture/accessories.
      Hope that helps, Maria

  • JoyceBinAtlanta says:

    Interesting post, but one thing that wasn’t mentioned is my personal bug-a-boo!! That is, undersized end tables and tables that are all the wrong height or wrong placement so that one has to reach behind to put down their drink or whatever. Though I do not have a matching end table in this house, every one is large enough for a lamp and a decorative item, as well as room for a book or glass. One way I’ve ‘expanded’ small tables is by adding a 4 to 6 inch diameter larger glass top. I just did that with a tallish Chinese stool I’m using between 2 bedroom chairs. The chairs are more than 30 years old, lower than the modern ones, so the stool was a perfect height. I’m using a floor lamp behind the table in this case. If one is placing small tables by a chair or sofa, it is best to place them a bit forward toward the front of the furniture. Also, carry a glass and small plate around to each seat and ‘test’ convenience for yourself or your guests. If you have to contort yourself to reach, the placement isn’t right. If you have to reach high or low, the height isn’t right for the arm of the furniture. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in homes where people end up placing their cup or glass on the carpet by their chair! Armless chairs and all those rain drums, stools, and other precious ‘tables’ were meant for each other. In rooms with ‘regular height’ furniture, those tables look like clutter.
    I agree with the comment about the mirrors being wonderful in a room with no view. More than the view, though, it bothered me that the sofa wasn’t centered because of the chair on the left side. Since it wasn’t centered, I would have chosen a different lamp and look for the right side – why force symmetry when it isn’t there?! Sorry I sound grumpy, but these pictures really demonstrated my pet peeves!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Good morning, Maria.
    I just looked around my living room & see that I have a good mix. And the colors are repeated appropriately.
    Yeah…I got something right!

  • Joanne says:

    Maria, do you know where one might find a small lucite table? I have been searching online for awhile and don’t want to settle.
    Thank you for this article on coffee/end tables. It’s a difficult styling issue for many.

    • BethB says:

      Search on “acrylic” too. There are a lot out there. CB2 (Crate & Barrel 2) has some, including a nesting set that’s cute.

      Wayfair has some, and their customer service is good, but I stopped ordering from them because I kept getting unwanted “free” magazine subscriptions, and those publishers would sell my name/address to others. Waste of trees, and took a while to stop them.

      • Joanne says:

        Thank you, Beth. The Novo folding table might be perfect. I only need one when I’m hosting so that one could easily tuck away.

  • Stacy says:

    I have unwittingly stumbled into pretty good design in my house because I’ve never been able to afford “sets.” So I bought one thing at a time, and now nothing matches, but they do coordinate in wood tone. My style is very simple, so it’s easy to coordinate. Plus, the simple stuff pretty much disappears in the room so you notice the really fun huge ottoman in red floral print instead. Or my super fun end table that looks like a stack of books. I don’t necessarily think symmetry is critical in a living room. I do prefer a bedroom to have symmetry on the sides of the bed (same tables or lamps).

  • Tiffany says:

    Thoughts on an oversized ottoman? Only if it has a large sectional to balance it out?

    • Maria Killam says:

      No I wouldn’t say that’s a rule of thumb, but certainly not smaller scale sofas. Maria

  • RC says:

    Maria I simply love your blogs and my dream home would not have come together had I not thankfully stumbled across your blogs. We moved in 6 months ago, I still have some way to go but it’s getting closer every month. We have our living room and it’s open space with the kitchen and formal dining…long story short I need an opinion on this. I LOVE, LOVE open space, I’m all for side tables, but is it ever okay to not have a coffee table?

  • Janet says:

    Love end tables – love this post!

  • megeranski says:

    everyone has an opinion and here goes mine LOL

    i dislike coffee tables a great deal. well-placed side tables are MUCH more gracious.

    try it.

    after you have been in a room with no coffee table (with fabulous side tables) you’ll never go back.


    lots of fabulous ideas in the post, many thanks!

  • cheryl says:

    Hmmm, believe it or not I still need more help with tables… Another post, perhaps? Pretty please? 😀

    LOVE your site, just found it last night and I’m going to read every post!!

    Suppose my question about the tables would be.. If I’m sick of my matching set and want to do something different then where do I start? (Actually I just want to get rid of it all even though it’s very nice and start over!) If I’m doing a room from scratch and the search for a great couch at an affordable price is going to be the hardest part, then how do I proceed? I keep finding inexpensive and quirky tables but the couch eludes me! But in the meantime, the room is driving me nuts because everything matches!


Leave a Reply